A new report by lawmakers in the United Kingdom concludes university campus “safe spaces” violate free speech and educators “cannot cover the whole of the university or university life without impinging on rights.”
The report by Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights said it is “unacceptable” that certain political and religious perspectives are being suppressed.
The issue repeatedly has developed on American campuses, as well, where pro-life demonstrations have been subjected to bans and vandalism. The so-called Black Lives Matter movement also has triggered riots in response to conservative speakers or intimidated officials into canceling speeches.
The U.K.’s Christian Institute noted the report from both houses of Parliament states university students should be free to air opinions on controversial issues such as abortion and transsexualism.
The report said it is “unacceptable” that certain topics are banned, warning it “could be having a ‘chilling effect’ on the exercise of freedom of speech more widely.”
“Minority views should not be barred from student union premises,” the report said, because students need to develop their own opinions on “unpopular, controversial or provocative ideas.”
“Groups or individuals holding unpopular opinions which are within the law should not be shut down nor be subject to undue additional scrutiny by student unions or universities.”
The report, released this week, finds “many of the incidents in which free speech is restricted often revolve around discussion of key controversial or divisive issues,” which it identified as Israel, faith, sexuality, abortion and transgenderism.
MP Fiona Bruce, who is on the committee that released the report, said attacks on speech have been found in the fairs universities hold for incoming students, where pro-life organizations are not even allowed to present their message.
“A student union at one university passed a motion never to provide a platform for pro-life groups,” she explained.
“There is no legal right not to be offended, people can say things which might offend others but if they don’t, for example, go as far as to incite violence or terrorism under the Prevent legislation then that speech is lawful,” said Bruce.
The BBC reported a warning from Universities Minister Sam Gyumah about the “creeping culture of censorship” at universities.
The BBC said he plans a “summit” with students.
“Masked protest, intimidatory filming or physical disruption is unacceptable and must be stopped,” the lawmakers say in the report.